In rare public remarks this week, special counsel Robert Mueller made clear that his report had not exonerated President Donald J. Trump.

Instead, he said, "if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so."

That's not what the president wanted to hear, of course. In a Twitter message the next day, the president labeled Mueller's investigation "the Greatest Presidential Harassment in history."

"After spending $40,000,000 over two dark years, with unlimited access, people, resources and cooperation, highly conflicted Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!" he tweeted.

Of course, that's not really true. Instead, the special counsel cited Department of Justice policy that he said precluded his team from bringing charges.

"Those were the principles under which we operated, and from them, we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime," Mueller said. "That is the office's final position, and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president."

For U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, the lone Republican calling for impeachment, the implication was clear.

"The ball is in our court, Congress," the Michigan Republican tweeted.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler suggested his committee would "take action to hold the president accountable for his misconduct."

"Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the president," he said, "it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump, and we will do so."

Trey Goudy, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, took issue with Nadler's use of the word "misconduct."

"I'm beginning to wonder whether we live in a country where there are any presumptions of innocence," he said during an appearance on Fox News Channel's "The Daily Brief."

Though many have suggested an appearance by Mueller should be part of any investigation, the special counsel said he hoped to avoid that.

"Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report," he said. "It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself."

The president, of course, had a different take.

"Russia, Russia, Russia!" he tweeted. "That's all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax. ... And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn't exist."

Now, he said, his opponents have changed tacks. Because he fought back against "this horrendous false accusation," he's being accused of obstruction of justice.

"Could this be Obstruction?" he tweeted. "No, Mueller didn't find Obstruction either. Presidential Harassment!"

A growing number of Democrats have been calling for impeachment, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still urging caution.

"Many constituents want to impeach the president, but we want to do what is right and what gets results," she told CNN. "We are investigating, and we are litigating, and we are going to as we go down the path and make a decision based on the strongest possible case to get the best results for the American people."

Goudy sees impeachment as a near certainty, and he offers a rather bleak outlook for the time leading up to the presidential election.

"We'll be in a state of chaos for the next 14 months," he said.

Given where we've been since the last presidential election, that seems like a fairly safe bet.

Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI News Indiana. He can be reached at

React to this story: